Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Pursuit of Happiness

What is my emotional fuel?

What drives me forwards, energizes me, makes we tick, makes me breathe, makes me dance, makes me come alive in a thousand different ways?

If I find that answer, I have found it all.

And this is something which we all need to do, to stay clued into our life and make it happen, as far as it will go, as high as we can take it. And as we flounder in the pulling back by all those who advise us (well-meant and far-thinking and so absolutely didactic in their manifestations), we must remember us.


What we are. What we are meant to be. We pay a price for finding ourselves. We pay a greater price if we lose ourselves, or never find out what we are all about. Everybody has an agenda, so why should we not make ours as well? As long as we live life as others want it for us (and how suitable indeed this is for them), then the fragmentation of us is to happen for sure. The scattering of the self in so many different areas; in so many different ways.

The pursuit of happiness is not wrong.

Whoever told us that it is wrong was pushing his own ends.

We need to pursue our happiness, relentlessly and faithfully. There is no one person like us. There is no one who is our self other than us. We have to hear our own drummer. We have to listen to our song in the wind. We have to stand on our own shores, climb our own mountains and do our thing.

We need to do what makes us happy. The pursuit of our happiness will make us happy, and we will then share our happiness with those around us. We are like the sun. We need our fire and energy in order to spread it around.


I know what drives me. I know what I want.

Even if I don’t know yet, I will take the steps to find out. I need to know me.

I need my emotional fuel for my happiness.

I will be happy.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I pondered too, in 2007

"I pondered...what effect poverty has on the mind?"~ Virginia Woolf A Room of One's Own, 1928

I pondered too, in 2007.

The fact is that being poor will of course ensure that the body and brain is not nourished and healthy, it is not as charged and energized as it would be if it got the right kind and amount of nourishment. Beginning from this there are all kinds of fallouts. If there is poverty, there is deprivation. The deprivation is not of the body alone, not of the chemical transmitters not firing completely because of the lack of charging alone. This deprivation is not only in the scrawniness and non-development of the physical self and in the non-presentability of the physical appearance. Even if we try to dignify poverty, we cannot, and those who believe they can should know by this day of development( I don't say evolution here) that it is sheer bunkum. They are talking through their heads because they have already overflowed their mouths with useless verbiage. We should leave dignified poverty to the church mice of the olden days.

The body is deprived of nutrients, and so is the brain. It is also deprived of a suitable education that helps it develop. The education may or may not make a learned or able person, but it is not in the poor man’s hands to find out how capable he is. When he has to scrounge for survival, how full can his brain be of reason and rhyme? How can he even begin to think, when his life teeters on the brink. If he lives in dirt and squalor, in clutter and care, can he think beyond the clutter and does he even care?

The mind can be deprived in many ways. It can also be made poor if the physical comforts are there but it is still not allowed to develop and grow in the direction it wants. This was the case with women so many years ago, when they were considered incapable of learning and not allowed to learn beyond the household chores. The mind was refused growth. It was made poor. It became stunted, then withered, and then did not think beyond the sniffling of noses and the changing of bedcovers. This is again the effect of another kind of poverty on the mind, and it also leads to poverty of the mind.

Poverty makes you so acutely aware of a desire to somehow eke out an existence that survival is the only driving force-where then is the space to move beyond the physical into perhaps the metaphysical, or even the study of anything like physics at that! And when we forcibly create a poverty of the mind, as was once in the case of women and is to be found rampant in many societies even today (for we have not come such a long way, baby), we are again seeing its immobilizing effect.

Affluence, wealth, or even a modicum of economic well-being helps open many doors. One of the most important ones is that the person can move beyond mere survival and dream of other realities. He can dream of “a room of one’s own” and beyond, and satisfy the hunger of the soul because the hunger of the body is taken care of.

The effect of poverty on the mind is that it creates a poverty of the mind. The effect of affluence on the mind is that it at least opens the door to an affluence of the mind. The latter gives us a choice; the former binds us in a suffocating grip from which there is no escape.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Moving out of My Comfort Zone

This was something I meant to write some time ago, when it actually happened, but as usual, I procrastinated. So here goes.

One of the challenges I have placed for myself at this time of my life is that I should venture out beyond my desk and meet the outside world. So, in order to rid myself of the ennui that sets in due to being a lonesome freelance writer, I took it upon myself, with due prodding from a very well-meaning friend, that I would venture out the next day.

The next day was a hot, humid day but what do you expect in July, and I was hell bent on my outing. I had a headache coming on, but then it could be stress induced at the idea of travel and the effort involved and all that, and I ignored it. Nothing would come between me and my outing, not even my headache.

I waited the morning out since my daughter said she would accompany me to this jaunt into the wilderness outside. It is a wilderness of a kind if you think of all the traffic, the different types of cars and the blowing of horns, and the pedestrians, and the magazine sellers and the beggars and the policemen and the …

My daughter had said in the morning that she would come with me and then she backed out. By the time she decided that she would not accompany me it was afternoon, around 2 p.m. I then had to go it on my own. So I changed my clothes and hemmed and hawed and said to myself I was not one who backed out of promises made even if they were only to me.

So at 2.45 on a hot, humid day in July I was out of the door and asking an auto- wallah to take me to Khan Market. And he agreed to go by the meter bless his soul, so he saved me the rate-arguing bit.

I forgot to tell you what I was going for. Not shopping, nor to meet a friend. No, I was going for a writing date with myself —yes. This was the idea. I would slip into Barista Crème which is supposed to have the right enough atmosphere to support such ventures, order my coffee [to ensure my seat there for a couple of hours], order a muffin as well [to ensure that I sit for that couple of hours without feeling guilty of usurping space , then whip out my pen and notebook and sit and write furiously even as the crowd milled around me and the world chattered in high- pitched excited voices around me.

Or so I think, for I have yet to experience Barista for an extended period of time. The few times I have gone there, I have had a quick coffee and vamoosed out, since at that time it is just a caravan serai kind of place for me, where one stops for a quick pick- me- up in between the books one picks up from Bahri Sons and the like.

The idea was that I would be out, at a place, with myself, and sit in the quietude [?] and let the muse visit me. The home would cease to encroach upon me with its interfering tentacles and eat into my writing time. I would be at peace in the midst of hubbub. Worse come to worse, I could read a book to pass the time and look around me with absorbed eyes for inspiration. It all sounded rather ‘groovy’ as was the term used during my time, and it was meant to do more than make me write, it was to rejuvenate me at the same time. You know, infuse something new within me while I drank the combination of coffee and atmosphere there.

So this was the agenda I had in mind as I sat, sweat- soaked in the auto, and looked at the streets burning in the hot sun and the traffic around me and thought only mad dogs and Indian like me choose, actually choose, to step out in the middle of a humid afternoon in Delhi.

I live quite far from Khan Market, and that is why it was chosen, I had to move out of my comfort zone. By the time I reached one-third of the way, my headache had reached enormous proportions, my throat was beginning to ache and my back was soaked with sweat. Some of the sweat had begun to drip down the back of my legs in utter generosity of spirit.

I gathered courage. I told myself it did not matter. I told myself I had the right to choose.

I told the auto-wallah to turn back.

He was not so compliant now.

“I have just maneouvered us out of heavy traffic,” he told me.

I was not willing to listen.

“I am not well all of a sudden, you have to turn back,” I told him, making sure my eyes burnt his back.

So he turned around, and we braved the traffic once again. This time it was worse, on the other side. It seemed as though everyone on my side had decided to turn back with me, and they just added to those who were already heading in the opposite direction. If it took us twenty minutes of sweat soaked agony to move away from home, it took double that time to retreat backwards. The auto-driver was not at all pleased. He had a ‘I told you so’ expression on his face which I chose to ignore [I had become very good at choice making by now], as he stopped, stalled and finally wended his way through to drop me home.

I was a limp but grateful rag that handed him the money and weaved my way up to reach my flat and collapse in the comfort of my air-conditioned room. My daughter, lying there and reading a book in a state of absolutely enviable lethargy, gave me a disbelieving look.

“That was very fast, mom. Mom?” she said. The question mark had to be answered.

“Its good you did not come with me,” I told her. “You would have got sunstroke.” I could not say anything wiser than that.

Imagine going out just to prove a point. What is wrong with sitting in my corner in my air-conditioned room and typing away on my computer in peace? Why do I need to go out to do the very same thing? Spend on an auto and waste money. Spend on coffee and muffin, waste money again and put on unrequired weight. Spend time and energy and experience the discomfort of travel. Suffer it all to hope to write amidst the chaos of strangers when I could write amidst the chaos of family life.

Imagine. The absolute foolishness of it all kind of hit me. I could understand if I was going out to meet someone. It might have been fun then, sharing coffee and muffin and scintillating talk with someone. If I wanted to have a date with myself or my muse, I could do it at home as well, by shutting the door and putting a ‘Do Not Disturb, the Muse is Visiting Me’ sign on it. No one would dare step in for a couple of hours.

And I can always have coffee at home. In bed, if I so want.

I have never been happier about changing direction and turning back. One should know when one is heading in the wrong direction.I am glad I changed my mind before the die was cast, and the auto-wallah had dropped me off at Khan Market. Then I would have had no choice but to see the thing through to the end.

I am now leaving such adventures for the winter days when the sun shines brightly in the sky without asking me to sweat and suffer to achieve some promised ends.

Meanwhile, I love my comfort zones. Allow me to wallow in them.

Monday, July 23, 2007


What is in an answer? An answer tells us everything about how the question has been answered. It may depend on the circumstances in which one is when the question is asked. For example, take the question, “How much?”

You may be asking the price of a cabbage. You will be told the price exactly and you may decide to pay up and go or head for another grocer who may stock better quality or a cheaper price or if you are lucky, you may get both. You may still decide not to purchase the cabbage and go ahead to buy cauliflower instead. You may then ask yourself, “how much?” talking about how much time you would want to spend shopping for vegetables when you have to see to the cooking and the cleaning back home. This time may not be so exact, but you know it would not be more than a half-hour. However, you may get distracted by the shoes in a store window and then you would not have time left for grocery shopping and you would then decide to buy the first cabbage on your return and say what the hell. You go home and see the mess the kids have made and you can ask yourself the question, “How much…. more of this can I take?” as you leave the bag of groceries at the door and bend down to pick up the toy car, the colored pencil and trip on the carpet gone askew. You land on your back and see the kids grinning over you as they try to help you up and you know your question will have to wait awhile as you hug them.

Your husband returns home from work and you serve him coffee and you know how much sugar he takes but you still ask inanely, “How much?” and he looks at you and grins stupidly and you realize how much you love him and you cannot really quantify this and don’t want to even. When you watch him looking at the sexy women on T.V. while you are with sauce on your shirt and smell of the garlic in the sandwich you are making, you realize you want to sock him, how much? Lots. You bend over his shoulder and ask him how much he loves you and he switches channels absently and murmurs lots and continues to fix his eyes on the T.V. and you know just how much of a housewife you have become. So the next day you are at the tailor’s and you want him to make your dress higher and he says how much and you wonder at how much more of your skin you can show to be called sexy but not sluttish. There is a fine line drawn here, but you don’t know how much. And you say let it be and you know you will wear the dress as it is because you tell yourself that your sexiness lies in your mind. How much? Got to be all of it.

How much is not enough, more than enough, or will do- it all depends on you. If you are passionate about something, more is less. If you hate something, a little is enough. If you are indifferent, how much is immaterial. If you are a dreamer, a little goes a long way. If you are a stockbroker, too much is too much less. If you are a writer, you never answer questions like this, only write about them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Another landmark birthday has passed and I go through notes I have made about the things I wanted to do before it came and went. I did cover a few of those things, but they are just an abysmal percentage.

Yes, I do make these lists, they are supposed to pin down all the things that I want to do while my monkey mind is running rife with the things that need to be done.

I have written in the list that I need to write my mega novel and can you believe it I have not even thought about what to write, so what is this mega novel I am talking about. Just ‘khayaali pulao’(dream pulao) as my mother will say. So coming back to the time to do the things that really matter, do the yoga, join the pottery class, see the finest movies, write that novel, (all these are part of my list, among other things) how do I do it?

Another day goes and I wonder where it all went. I wake up thinking I have the whole day in front of me. I don’t do a job you know, but being at home attending to mundane things is an even bigger job. Now, for example, I sit down for yoga and the front doorbell rings, and the phone does as well. The mind, that is all spreading into peaceful waves to get into the state of well being induced by yoga, suddenly scrambles onto alert and the question is which bell I attend to first as I scramble to my feet and into my slippers. From alpha waves to beta-be-there for the bell, that’s what happens.

It is the magazine man at the door, and on the phone an inane caller who wants to know if I want a loan on my credit card. I almost say, “Lend me your ears so that I may scream into them!” I count to ten the Western way, breathe deep to ten the Eastern way and quietly tell her to not disturb me again like this, please. Please. Vinti hai. (This is a request).

‘Oh mild woman, when will you ever learn?

With people such as these you have to be stern.

They take a hold of your life and storm into your time,

Don’t let them, babe, commit this crime.

Never mind. So that kind of explains it-this flying away of time from within my fingers as I clutch and clutch and ask of it please stay, another day will pass, and I will be left holding nothing in the end, just my dust, in my crumbling hands and I picture this whole thing and think to myself at least there should be a book here, the life and times of a woman of the twentieth century in India who manages to survive into the twenty-first as well, or some such thing. To show that I have been here and done something with this life.

I want to leave a footprint, not carbon of course, have to watch that in today’s day and age. Maybe what I want to say is that I want to leave my hand print, in ink and on paper.

I have felt myself going round and round and unable to stop myself from doing all the things I do out of habit or out of a sense of compulsion, or out of a sense of evading that which I know is important to my life. Because to make that happen requires so much from me. I have to focus and concentrate and do some deep writing. I cannot let my mind wander and just wallow in my dreams. I dream of how good it will be to have a home in the mountains and a laptop to work with and tea to drink as the breeze whispers a song in the trees. If there is a breeze of course, but then I have a choice, I can hear music on my iPod. Technology and nature, what a combination! I always wanted to have the best of both worlds. But that is possible only if I do something meaningful to make the dream happen. It won’t happen just like that. And that means writing in the here and now and making my novel materialize.

I can dream or I can write my way to the dream. Or maybe not write my way to the dream, but at least to somewhere. To the top of the next mountain maybe. And then I will look down with a sense of having climbed, at least. Not dream of climbing and sit at the foothills forever. Once I am there, imagine me with the laptop, the chai in hand, the sun streaming down to the river tinkling by (we are allowed to make meaningful additions) and the song in the tress. If there is a breeze, otherwise, iPod hai na!

You can see how potent this dream is. It keeps reappearing. So I will not chase time anymore, nor try to catch it by its collar, nor race with rotten rats. I will just hunker down to write that great novel. About a time and a life. A time in my life. The life of my times.

What is this life if not time? The seconds are ticking away.


10th July, 2007

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Its been kind of troubling me so I wanted to write about it rather then wax eloquent about my recent trip to Guwahati where the people are the sweetest, the air the balmiest, and the green the greenest. How expressive can I get now? So what has been troubling me that I wanted to write about?

I called a friend to inform her about a new job prospect since I knew she was on the look out for this, and we connected after a period of say , two weeks where she had gone into hibernation and I had been very busy as well. So it was good and the first thing she says after we get over the details of the job etc., is , I sense that something has been happening in your life.
Ya, sure like relatives landing up, my daughter going into a deep blue funk because of her examinations coming up, my son being too busy at work to drop in at home from Gurgaon for the last couple of weeks, and the washing machine not sucking in enough excelmatic, and my hubby out on tour and... so this is life, I wanted to say so what are you talking about?

And she says, no I am exploring my psychic self and I can sense there is some change in your life.
So blow me away I tell her, tell me about it.

She says, I don't know, you have to tell me, and that's about it. and I can sense the air of sudden anticipation in her voice.

I tell her then, how did you know, I'm feeling very good about myself, I was really made too much of in Guwahati and for the first time I felt like I was a person in my own right, and I knew what receiving respect, consideration an admiration was all about, for my work and because of it, and I loved interacting and connecting with people, and so on.
She said, go on.
I said I have a sense of self -worth and isn't that something.
She said, yes, go on.
I said I have made new friends who are not my husband's friends or family friends but my freinds. They discuss poetry and writing with me. I feel intellectually stimulated and content as well.
So I'm on the road to somewhere.

She met me today and did not look me in the eye.
I asked her why.
She says that she does not want to embarass me. She says she can see the happiness bubbling all around me, but does not want to tell me that she understands why.

Now this really baffled me. I was not hiding anything from her, yet she felt that there was something else that accounted for my happiness, which she did not want to acknowledge.

It shamed me, this attitude of hers. I felt somewhat smaller. Happiness also has to have an unnecesary explanation. It cannot be taken for itself.

In other words, if you experience a happiness, keep it to yourself. The world does not want to see it. Your friends do not want to see it. Is this the message I am getting?

So much for being psychic. I think its better to be not so, if you read too much into things.

Anyways, I forgive her her doubts.

I am happy, for the time being.